18 October 2012


The recent statements by the British representative to the United Nations Fourth Committee only serve to repeat the same discredited position of past years that 'modernised' colonial status has become the 'new self-government ' - at least, in the eyes of the 'administering power which has the most dependencies.' This latest attempt to legitimise colonialism is more of the same fiction which continues to be rejected by the people of the territories dependencies and the most of the international community. Perhaps they think that if the fiction is repeated enough, maybe someone will somehow start to believe it. Certainly, the people in the territories, (with the exception of one or two mis-guided elected souls) view this as utter nonsense since the very colonial constitutions being promoted so arrogantly only serve to retain - and even strengthen - the unilateral power of the British over these islands. These so-called 'self-governing' territories have no political representation in the British political system, and are subject to 'orders-in-council' which can force laws upon them without their consent and against their will. The U.N. resolutions acknowledge this. Further, legislation of the elected dependency governments can be anulled by an un-elected governor sent by the British who has immediate full and absolute political control once stepping off the plane in the territory. this is clearly spelled out in the constitutions given to these territories. The elected dependency governments can even be abolished by such an 'order.' This took place in the Turks and Caicos Islands over three years ago. Self government? Please!!"  -- A Caribbean territory politician.

General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
Sixty-seventh General Assembly
Fourth Committee
5th Meeting (PM)



Speaker Says Territories Achieved Large Measure of Self-Government, Deserved
To Be ‘De-Listed’ Long Ago; United Kingdom Will Ensure Security, Good Governance

MICHAEL TATHAMUnited Kingdom) stated that the United Kingdom maintained its long-standing position on the independence of the Territories it administered, which was that any separation should be on the clear and constitutionally based wish of the people of the Territory concerned.  If it was the wish of the people, the United Kingdom would meet its obligations to help the people achieve that goal.

He referred to a white paper published in June, which outlined the overall approach of the United Kingdom to its Territories and confirmed its commitment to the relationship it had with them.  The constitutional status of each had been reviewed and each had its own unique constitution.  While the United Kingdom would continue to work with Territories to modernize their constitutions, and expected them to evolve and require adjustment in light of changing circumstances, it remained convinced that the fundamental structure of its constitutional relationships was the right one.

Quoting from the white paper, he said of his country:  “We believe that at this point in the history of our relationships with the Territories, when a decade of constitutional revision is coming to a close, the time is not right to embark on a further round of constitutional change,” he said.  Rather, the country’s strategy was to ensure that the constitutional arrangements worked effectively to promote the best interests of the Territories and the United Kingdom.  It was important to continue to reflect on the constitutional relationship and the United Kingdom would continue dialogue with all parties concerned.

He said that the Special Committee on Decolonization (“Special Committee of 24”) no longer had a relevant role to play with respect to the Overseas Territories of the United Kingdom.  The Territories had a large measure of self-government and all of them should have been delisted a long time ago.

However, given that some United Nations Members wished to retain the Committee and that some democratically elected Territory representatives wished to present their own positions directly to it, the United Kingdom would continue to support it and those Territories’ rights to determine their own futures.

The aforementioned white paper made it clear that the fundamental responsibility of the United Kingdom was to ensure that the Territories were secure, enjoyed good governance, and met the same high standards in terms of, among others, the rule of law, human rights and integrity.

He reported on positive developments in Turks and Caicos, including that it had been determined that elections would be held there next month.  A new constitution had been drawn up with wide participation from the people of the Territory, and it would be brought into force soon.  He was pleased that sufficient progress would be made to restore democratic governance there.

He concluded that the relationship between the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories was based on partnership, shared values, and the right of each Territory to determine whether to maintain the link or not.  For as long as they wanted to maintain the link, the United Kingdom was committed to assist in each Territory’s future development and continued security.


General Assembly

Also speaking in explanation of position, the representative of the United Kingdom stated that her country regretted that the “Committee of 24” (Special Committee on Decolonization) continued with its outdated approach even though the relationship between the United Kingdom and its Overseas Territories had modernized.  Some of the language in today’s resolution was unacceptable as it did not reflect that the relationship between the United Kingdom and its Territories, which was based on shared values and the right to self-determination.  On the subject of Turks and Caicos, the resolution did not reflect the considerable progress that had been made in that Territory...